Sri Lankan cuisine has always been one of the delights of this island nation. Colombo’s restaurant scene is thriving, with a range of fine dining, budget eats and quirky colonial restaurants offering something to suit every taste. As these ten restaurants reveal, a visit to Colombo offers an unmissable chance to explore the best of Sri Lankan food culture.
Interested in tasting Sri Lankan cuisine for yourself? Join Culture Trip’s 12-day epic adventure around the country – highlights include a guided tour of Colombo and a hands-on Sri Lankan cooking class.
The Gallery Café, for a mixture of art and gastronomy
Opened in 1998 in the former offices of world-renowned architect Geoffrey Bawa, The Gallery Café offers a unique combination of art and gastronomy within its atmospheric dining room. As part of the Paradise Road complex, visitors can peruse an art gallery which hosts a rotating selection of local artists and designers before sitting down to dine. In the dining room they will be served the best in authentic Sri Lankan fare, using only the freshest local ingredients. The lemon grass and ginger chicken, black pork curry and prawn curry with sautéed kankun all come highly recommended, as do the Café’s many cocktails.
Nihonbashi, for Japanese elegance
Named the 38th best restaurant in Asia by San Pellegrino, Nihonbashi is run by Japanese-Sri Lankan chef restaurateur Dharshan Munidasa, who brings a slice of Japanese elegance to the Sri Lankan capital. The décor purposefully evokes the Zen like calm of a Japanese garden, with gently bubbling fountains and a minimalist, understated atmosphere. The cuisine is similarly simple, utilizing the most delicate combinations to bring the best out of sashimi and sushi, all of which is presented with beautiful attention to detail. Every item on the menu is prepared to perfection, with a charcoal grill and hotpot dishes to accompany the signature sushi and sashimi.
Chutneys, for south Indian cuisine
Offering a master class in south Indian cuisine, Chutneys is one of the best places to experience the rich variety of this culinary culture. It includes dishes from all of the four primary states of southern India, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, and also features vegetarian dishes from every state. The incredible diversity of food culture in each of these states is explored through an extensive menu, particular highlights of which include the many types of Dosai on offer, and dishes such as Prawn Masala and Cashew Nut and Onion Raga.
Beach Wadiya, for a beachside location
Another beachfront restaurant that takes advantage of Colombo’s abundant seafood supply, Beach Wadiya has a reputation across the country for its massive seafood platters and the cheap and cheerful style of cooking. It is now a Colombo institution, which has attracted many famous patrons to its dining tables, including several members of the British Royal Family. Beach Wadiya’s take on authentic Sri Lankan classics is simple but flavorful, and its no frills style makes it the perfect place to experience quality seafood in a relaxed and vibrant setting.
Ministry of Crab, for exceptional crab
Created by Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara and Dharshan Munidase (of Nihonbashi) as a celebration of Sri Lanka’s seafood, Ministry of Crab specializes in offering every possible variation on the humble crab, transforming it into the height of gourmet excellence in the process. The culinary credentials of the three owner/chefs are first rate and this is translated in their innovative and refined take on the rustic crab, which they sell in vast quantities every day. Diners can enjoy simple but hugely flavorful dishes such as Garlic Crab, Ginger Steamed Crab, Pepper Crab or Butter Crab, whilst also choosing the size of their crab dinner, from a petite 1/2 Kilo Crab to Crabzilla, which comes in at an astounding 2kg and upwards! Located in the Old Dutch Hospital, the historic colonial façade is the perfect location for this festival of crab.
The Cricket Club Café, for cricket vibes
If it is a colonial atmosphere you are after, then The Cricket Club Café is the ideal place to start. Built in a small colonial villa by an Australian couple, James & Gabrielle Whight, The Cricket Club Café celebrates everything that is great about Sri Lanka’s favourite sport whilst also offering first rate dining. The walls are lined with autographed bats and pictures of famous cricket stars from Sri Lanka and Australia, whilst the regular congregation of cricket fans mean that this is also the best places to watch matches.
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